November 5th, 2008
Jason Holler, Gallery Assistant–It started as sheer terror. I have never been known as a “kid person,” and here they were, all 60 of them. Fifth-graders armed with teddy grahams and questions aplenty. Any apprehension I had soon became wonderment and even enjoyment. I was amazed at the precociousness of these children. My duty was to explain Joe and add any insight necessary. I found the students inquisitive. Everyone wanted to know: what’s inside?, what’s it made of?, and who is this Joe person? One girl asked (after I explained the “No Touching Joe” policy), “is it because of the oil on our hands, and how it messes up the rust?” I was impressed enough, and then she added, “because if the surface gets messed up then people won’t be able to see the way it was made originally.” I was floored.
The students were well-behaved and attentive. I loved hearing their insights, which were completely unaffected and uninfected by art history. Their comments were fresh and without fear of possibly being wrong. They seemed engaged with Joe and frantically wrote ideas in journals. Their little fingers and pencils moved in a frenzy across the page. All the while, concentrating heavily, with their tongues slightly sticking out. They had abstract ways of looking at everything. One girl said Joe’s form reminded her of a “giant chocolate shaving.” Ah yes, a Claus Oldenburg fan. The whole experience reminded me of the often used Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Well I defiantly saw some artists in the courtyard this morning and with any luck, they shall remain that way. Good day, children, and enjoy the teddy grahams.